Dirk Hayhurst, currently a farmhand at Durham and, of course, the author of “The Bullpen Gospels” and the upcoming “Out of My League,” hates to burst your bubble, but he does not play baseball for the love of the game:
So, dear baseball purist, you ask why then do I play? … Because I enjoy it more than the alternative. Because I’ve spent my life training to do it and walking away to another profession is easier said than done. Because I need the healthcare benefits (as crappy as they are). Because there are certain perks this job has that others don’t. Because making it to the top sets you up for the rest of your life, if you’re good enough to get there.
Admit it, none of these answers sound as satisfactory, noble, or fulfilling as love, do they? Some even sound selfish. But they are the real reasons. Real, boring, reasons John Forgerty wouldn’t dare pen a lyric too. Furthermore, if you took even a third of them away, I would have to seriously reevaluate why I keep doing this job.
It’s not a cranky rant. It’s a realistic take that I am certain Hayhurst is not alone in having among men who play baseball for a living. That “love of the game” stuff is mostly for us fans. It’s a job to these guys. At least those of them who haven’t made millions doing it. I see that on the face of the non-prospects when I go to Columbus Clippers game. I’ve heard from other writers who talk to journeymen ballplayers that the sentiment is common.
But rarely is it put as well as Hayhurst puts it here. And, contrary to what you might expect, it makes me appreciate these guys way more than if they were all “rah-rah, I heart baseball” about it.